Second Chance Heroes’ Beta left us with a desire to play more of it, but until then, Lead Game Designer Dana Massey and Creative Director Josh Drescher have been kind enough to answer our burning questions about their upcoming cooperative arcade mayhem title.

Where did the inspiration come for Second Chance Heroes?

Josh: The 1980s! And history class. And Dana and I being locked in a room together for a year.

We’re both history geeks, so we  kind of became obsessed with the idea of putting together a “dream team” of heroes and leaders from throughout history and making them fight monsters. We took that core idea and kind of mashed it together with the sensibilities of a 1980s action movie – crazy violence, cheesy one-liners, bright, funky aesthetics, etc. We wanted it to be fast-paced and exciting, but also light-hearted and funny.

Beyond that, we just drew inspiration from stuff we love from all over. There are references to everything from old Kubrick movies and comic books to classic fantasy tropes and college sports. If – in the future – scientists need to bring back an AI version of us, they can just take this game and shove it into the Positronic Mind-net of whatever computer is being used and we’ll pop right up!

SCH’s characters’ entertainment value make it different to other dungeon crawlers. Was this your aim when creating it? To create a more entertaining game over a serious crawler like, say Diablo?

Dana: We wanted to make a game that was both fun and funny. In our view, a lot of games have come to take themselves way too seriously. I prefer games that just do what they need to do to keep me entertained. Video game worlds are not bound by the laws of the real world, nor should they be. It’s just as easy for us to create a sentient cheeseburger as it is a spider, so why make another game where you fight spiders for 20 hours?

Older games tended to be a bit more fantastical, and in many ways, our game was inspired by titles like Mario. How much sense does it make for a plumber to jump on turtle shelled birds and slide down tubes? Not much, but it works.

The specifics of the game evolved organically over time. We always worked to do an isometric game in a funny world, but it was a year and a half ago that we finally found that magic sauce that was the right fit.

We settled on collection of historical characters for a range of reasons, but the main one was that they’re both fun and nearly universally known. We don’t have to explain Abraham Lincoln with a chainsaw to anyone. People get it and can have fun with it.

The game has been in the Steam Greenlight community for a while now. How have you found the experience? Has it been helpful in projecting your game?

Dana: Greenlight gives you an easy way to show your game to thousands of users who might otherwise never have found it, for which we are very grateful. The challenge all the games on Greenlight face is to build the awareness necessary to generate the votes to get listed.

There are lots of really interesting games on there that may never see the light of day simply because not enough people noticed them. Fans of indie games can do a huge service to the community by going through Greenlight and voting on those that look promising.

Will the title feature a drop in/drop out style co-op?

Dana: Our dungeons automatically scale to the number of players in a group. So, if you join a friend halfway through a dungeon, it automatically gets a little bit harder. We allow you then to jump in with a friend at any time. You can also drop out and the dungeon will scale back down so as not to get your friend killed.

How long will Second Chance Heroes be?

Dana: The initial launch will feature 26 dungeons for players to explore. Each of our dungeons can last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how much of a completionist you are. We plan to support the game with more content beyond launch, but those 26 levels tell the story we want to tell.

Does SCH have an overall story?

Josh: Indeed it does!

Three weeks in the future, multiple apocalyptic disasters take place simultaneously.  Werewolves and vampires and zombies roam the earth.  Appliances come to life and try to kill everyone. Cheeseburgers gain malevolent intelligence. Aliens invade, robot uprisings take place and nuclear annihilation looms.

So, all in all, kind of a bad scene.

Unfortunately, the modern world has grown complacent due to excessive bacon consumption and an obsession with kitten videos. As a result, there’s no one fit to cope with the calamity that has befallen mankind except for a single high school history teacher named Hubert Beasley who has spent most of his adult life developing a cloning lab in his garage and engaging in a bit of grave robbery from time to time.

Using his knowledge of history, his collection of pilfered famous DNA and his cloning lab, Hubert starts bringing back heroes from the past – back when people knew how to tackle difficult problems. That’s where the player jumps in – taking over the role of various cloned heroes, they’re tasked with cleaning up the mess that the modern world has become.

How varied will the environments be? (e.g.: cities, underground areas, forests etc.)

Josh: Gouge out your eyes if you want to avoid spoilers, kids! Or… ya know… just skip this question.

You start in a Mall and wind up on an Alien planet.  In-between, you discover an underground kingdom of Hobos and a hidden Cold War-era military base.

So it’s pretty varied, if you ask me.

We wanted to start players off in an area that seemed almost mundane, then quickly have that sense of familiarity collapse into total madness.  So we basically just keep cranking up the Weirdness of the environments non-stop from the very beginning.

Will the game feature puzzles?

Dana: Our dungeons contain a few gameplay puzzles along the way, usually as optional elements that stand in the way of achieving a specific goal. We never want to take the player out of the action and into some other element, but in-scene puzzles let us change the pace up from time to time.

For example, for whatever reason, the shoplifting alarms in the mall go off every time a clone wanders between the doorway wands. There’s usually another way to get around, which makes progress through the level much easier for those who have the patience to seek out a solution.

Was there much debate about implementing more than two character moves?

Dana: Each character has two, but through relics, characters have access to many more abilities. Relics are bizarre historical artifacts players discover as they complete goals in each level. Players can equip three at a time and each one provides a new power any character can use. For example, Openheimer’s Vile does an AOE explosion / knockback that can be invaluable to the squishier ranged types.

We debated more innate abilities – ancient versions of the game had three for example – but from a user perspective two always felt the best. It also let us increase the size of the roster. The abilities are far and away the most time consuming part of a new character. Adding more abilities to each character would mean less characters to collect.

The collection of characters is the backbone of Second Chance Heroes. We wanted to get as many in there as we could.

Without a mini-map, it often meant I was going blind trying to find side objectives. Will there be a mini-map in the full version?

Dana: No, we made the conscious decision to forgo a mini map. We like games that have a bit of exploration and discovery and mapping out the routes can take away from that. It becomes very easy to find every nook and cranny and to always know what the right direction is.

Our dungeons have more than one single perfect route and are intentionally set up so that players cannot discover everything and complete every goal on a single play through.

Do you plan on supporting the game with future downloadable packs? Maybe even full expansions?

Dana: We’re focused on getting the core game ready and launched. Of course, we have all sorts of ideas and plans.  The game is set up for all sorts of additional content – I am sure everyone can think of 10 historical figures they’d love to play as – but we’re a small company and we want to give players the best possible experience up front. If there is a demand, we’ll be more than happy to add additional levels, challenges and characters through some form of downloadable content, but let’s get the game out there first!

If Second Chance Heroes proves to be a success, where do you see the franchise going in the future?

Dana: We’ve intentionally made a world with limitless possibilities. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have some pretty strong ideas already, but before we focus on that we need to make sure we’ve delivered the best possible experience with the core game.

So there you have it folks! Second Chance Heroes is scheduled for release this summer, on the PC and MAC. You can check out its Steam Greenlight page here, or sign up for another Beta here.

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